Diabetes UK warns foot care for diabetics at Queen’s Hospital “not good enough”

Inadequate healthcare in Havering is putting people with diabetes at risk of losing their feet, a national charity has warned.

Guidance from the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) says hospital inpatients with diabetes should be able to see a specialist diabetic podiatry (foot care) team within 24 hours. A 2010 NHS report showed healthcare trusts that had introduced these teams had seen amputation rates among diabetics drop by more than 80 per cent.

But the NHS’s recent National Diabetes Inpatient Audit revealed neither Queen’s nor King George in Redbridge has a dedicated team working in-house. North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT) does provide a specialist service that sees patients at both hospitals – but it only runs a clinic three days a week at each hospital and sets itself a 48-hour response time.

There is no cover at weekends.

“It’s not good enough,” said a Diabetes UK spokesman. “A diabetic foot ulcer can deteriorate in hours. People with diabetes should have access to a specialist podiatry service within 24 hours, not 48, and it should be over the weekend as well. That can be the difference between losing your foot and keeping it.”

Joe Braeger of the Havering Family Diabetes Group said: “One of the biggest problems for people with diabetes is caring for their feet.

“As people get older they can’t reach them so just getting their toenails cut means they need help from others.”

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A spokesman for commissioning body NHS North East London and the City said an annual foot scan was offered to everyone with diabetes in Havering.

“If a patient requires podiatry input their GP or other healthcare professional can refer them to the specialist community podiatry service, which holds clinics in local health centres and hospitals,” he said.

The community podiatry service holds a clinic at Queen’s on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday each week.

“In all urgent cases the podiatry service will contact the patient within 48 hours, Monday to Friday, to either book an appointment or see them on the hospital ward,” he added.

Diabetes UK estimates people with diabetes are up to 30 times more likely to have a limb amputated than the rest of the population.

According to the charity, about 14,300 people in Havering have the disease.